How Will Recreational Marijuana Affect Lansing's Economy

Feb 28, 2020

More than a year after Michigan voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana, Lansing opened it’s first recreational pot shop on Friday.

Martinez: "I know that by January, it was, you know, millions of dollars and there were lines outside the doors in Ann Arbor when those stores opened. So, the demand is there. I don't think Lansing has missed out on that, it's only been a couple of months. The Lansing market is about a half million people, not accounting the outlying areas that don't have recreational shops. So, I don't think Lansing's missed out. I think there's gonna be a big response to the opening on Friday."

Censky: "And I know Sarah that you reported on this, how many businesses did the city clear to eventually open?"

Lehr: "So eventually in Lansing we could see up to 28 retailers, which are recreational pot shops. Right now, you know, only two have been cleared to open. From what we've heard, the first one will be openeing Friday. Um, you know, most of these recreational pot shops are already operating as medical marijuana dispensaries so that means they're selling to people with medical marijuana cards; recreational just means you can sell to anybody age 21 and over without a card."

Censky: "And Christian you kind of touched on this, the outlying areas around Lansing, some of those communities have moratoriums even, on recreational-use or adult-use marijuana. Has the City of Lansing positioned itself to be in kind of a 'green rush' for mid-Michigan or is there other significant competition in these surrounding areas?"

Martinez: "Yeah, I think due to its placement-- its smackdab in the middle of the state, its easily accessible so if people wanna come here and they find that the product is good; I think it could see a 'green rush'. Especially with greenpeak being in Diamondale, that's one of the largest proudcers in the state, so it could be a homebase for a lot of marijuana industry."

Lehr: "Most communities throughout Michigan and Ingham county are choosing to ban recreational marijuana businesses, East Lansing is an exception, Lansing is an exception, East Lasning has not licnesed any recreational businesses yet, Meridian township has said that they could decide to amend their rules and say 'Yeah, actually we will allow recreational pot shops, but we wanna wait and see, uh, we don't wanna be the first' they're letting Lansing do that."

Censky: "We're here with Lansing State Juornal reporters Christian Martinez and Sarah Lehr discussing recreational or adult-use marijuana sales in Lansing. The eleven stores that will be selling recreational marijuana in Lansing were given coniditonal licenses, what does that mean exactly?"'

Lehr: "Lansing has basically a two step process. You need approval from the city and you need approval from the state. Last week the City Clerk announced that 11 had coniditonal approval. They were cleared by the city; they were waiting for a few extra things like to pass a building inspection and they needed the go ahead from the state. Now we know that two places already have the go ahead from the state and I think, very rapidly, depeding on the stpeed of state regulators, we could see more pot shops poping up in Lansing."

Censky: "I know other cities who have been opening medical shops or recreational shops have had kind of 'greenlight districts' kind of pop up but the way the city of lansing structured that, that's not really going to happen here cause there are caps on the number of businesses per ward, correct?"

Lehr: "So some of the businesses are capped at one per ward like the social clubs, the microbusinesses. The pot shops are controlled by zoning, you know, can't be a certain distance away from a liquor store or another retailer. I do also know that the City Clerk, in the scoring process, gives priority to areas that don't have a pot shop nearby; the idea of being providing access throughout the city. So we'll have to see what it's like, but it is something that the city says it is prioritizing in terms of spreading them out and most of these locations will be where we already have medical dispensaries which have eventually sorta been distributed throughout the four quadrants of the city."

Censky: "Alright. Christian Martinez and Sarah Lehr thank you both so much for coming in today and discussing this."

Lehr: "Thanks for having us."

Martinez: "Thank you."

Censky: "And we will certainly follow your reporting."